Hang onto your trowel, it’s Q&A time!
Q: Is it too late to plant?
A: Heck no. You have plenty of time to garden. In fact, there is quite a variety of veggies that you can still plant for the first, second, or third go-round. (Maybe not Brussels and jalapeno peppers).
Indeed, this allows for staggering of crops (and harvest). Another term for staggered (interval) crops is succession planting, also known as successive planting. Succession crops are those veggies, herbs and flowers that are well-suited to plant across the entire growing season.
It’s a way to extend your harvest (usually vegetables) by staggering plantings of crops or planting varieties with staggered maturing dates. We’ll look at four methods of succession planting. But first, here is a list of crops for succession planting:
• Bush beans
• Swiss chard
• Bok Choi
• Mustard and Asian greens
• Corn salad (mache)
1. Same vegetable, staggered plantings
Space out plantings of the same veg every two to four weeks. So rather than plant a single crop of spinach, which eventually bolts at the same time, plant new rows every couple of weeks. Cress is another crop that helps you avoid a feast or famine situation.
2. Different veggies in succession
Some crops, such as peas, have shorter growing seasons and the space they were using can be replanted with a later season crop, like kale. The best vegetables for succession plantings include: arugula, basil, beets, broccoli raab, carrots, cilantro, corn salad (mache), dill, green onions, lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, bok choi, radish, rutabaga, spinach, Swiss chard, tatsoi and turnips.
3. Paired vegetables in the same spot
Intercropping, or pairing up of plants, is an excellent way to squeeze even more harvest from your veggie garden. For example, you can seed an early or mid-season veg (radishes) at the same time you are planting seedlings (kale or broccoli). The same idea works for slow and fast germinating crops.
4. Same vegetable, different maturity rates
An easy way to extend your harvest coming to fruition is to choose more than one variety of a crop and make them early, mid-, or late-season varieties. Sometimes the seed packet will provide this information. Look for the “days to maturity” number. For example, carrots, tomatoes, collards, and potatoes.
Q: Aphids have attacked my nasturtium plants. And now they’re showing up on my hoophouse plants. What can I do?
Answer: Aphids come in so many varieties it sometimes seems like there is a special one for every plant that grows. But all of them have the same basic habits and the first line of defense is the same: Take care of the plant’s health because aphids concentrate their attacks on the sick and weak.
Start by making sure your plants are well-watered. Aphids love drought-stressed plants. Then try a spray of immune-system-boosting liquid seaweed extract which you can make yourself. And avoid fertilizers such as Miracle-Gro that contain a lot of nitrogen; the soft, lush growth is a favorite target for aphids.
Blasting with water helps to bring down the population and good air movement in the form of open windows and fans discourages them. Like dealing with slugs, it’s all about bringing the population down to tolerable levels. And if one happens to hitch a ride on a lettuce leaf which ends up in the salad, simply smile and say, “Lucky you! More protein!”
There’s one more solution to aphid problems, though it’s probably not a solution you want to hear…
Q: What can I do about yellow jackets?
A: Unless these insects are posing a danger by building a nest near your front door to your house or other place where there’s a good amount of human activity, leave them be. So says Anchorage Daily News garden writer Jeff Lowenfels.
“Yellow jackets are very beneficial insects,” he says. “They control aphid populations, take out delphinium defoliators and other leaf rollers and so much more. In short, they are usually good news.
“It is when they have a nest in the ground — or a paper wasp builds one by a door — that you must be extra careful.” Yellow jackets are extremely protective insects and they are known to pursue invaders. Unlike bees, yellow jackets don’t lose their stingers when attacking and can sting multiple times.
There are many ways to deal with a yellow jacket nest should you need to remove one. You can spray nests yourself with commercial sprays or use a recipe from the internet. But you may want to contact a local professional for complicated situations such as a nest under a porch.
Have a great week and remember to share your produce, herbs and flowers with your neighbors.
My latest YouTube video celebrates blue poppies. To view it, copy the following name and paste it in your browser: youtube.com/ItsNeverTooLate. Meanwhile if you have a garden question, get it off your chest! firstname.lastname@example.org.